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Paik, Nam June; Yalkut, Jud
«Video Synthesizer and ‘TV-Cello’ Collectibles»
Together with the electronics expert Shuya Abe, Paik developed between 1969 and 1970 a video synthesizer allowing the colours and shapes from different images to be mixed and manipulated. Paik saw in this innovation a major step making video an artistic medium: «This will enable us to shape the TV screen canvas as precisely as Leonardo, as freely as Picasso, as colorfully as Renoir, as profoundly as Mondrian, as violently as Pollock and as lyrically as Jasper Johns.» (Edith Decker, Paik Video, S. 152.) Posterity was not the immediate concern, however, the instrument being intended for use in live performances with a function comparable to the audio synthesizer’s for concerts. According to Paik, the video synthesizer had 'to be played in real time – like a piano. From a purely artistic viewpoint that is highly interesting – a truly new thing that has no precedent. You simply play and then see the effect.' (Nam June Paik, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Köln 1976, S. 133.)
The video synthesizer was first used in the four-hour live broadcast 'Video Commune' transmitted by WGBH in 1970. Pictures mixed live from completed videotapes and camera images were shown to the accompaniment of Beatles music. The studio crew was joined by passers-by Paik invited into the studio from the street.
Early TV Experiments/Video Commune (top row)
Video Commune/Early TV Experiments (bottom row)